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Archive for the ‘Demographics’ Category

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

 

This year’s MCAS test results have been released.

And while this assessment of Massachusetts students is 25 years old, this year’s results are part of a “new generation” of testing that’s designed “to measure how a school or district is doing and what kind of support it may need,” according to a press release from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).

The next-generation MCAS “is more comprehensive than the previous system and complies with the 2015 federal Every Student Succeeds Act.” This is the second year that the new MCAS has been administered, so this year’s results can only be compared to last year’s – and not to earlier years.

Students’ test scores are sorted into one of four assessment categories:

• exceeding expectations

• meeting expectations

• partially meeting expectations, and

• not meeting expectations

The year’s results are similar to last year’s, the press release notes. In English and math, “approximately 50 percent of the students who took the test scored Meeting Expectations or above.” (more…)

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Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

 

Census 2020 is coming. So now is the time to make sure all of the nation’s children get counted.

“If we don’t count children, we render their needs invisible and their futures uncertain,” Patrick McCarthy, president and CEO of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, says in a foundation blog post. “A major census undercount will result in overcrowded classrooms, shuttered Head Start programs, understaffed hospital emergency rooms, and more kids without health care.”

How many children could be missed? One million or more.

According to a Los Angeles Times article: “The problem has grown worse over the last four decades, experts said. In 2010, the census failed to count nearly 1 million children younger than 5. Experts warn that it could exceed that number in 2020.”

Casey says an undercount of this size would “short-change child well-being over the next decade by putting at risk hundreds of millions of dollars of federal funding for programs that are critical to family stability and opportunity.” (more…)

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“When it comes to early childhood education, the United States needs to step up. Many developed nations now have more than 90% enrollment in pre-K programs, surpassing the US with just 66% enrollment for 4-year-olds. Rising superpowers are making significant commitments to expand access to early education over the next few years, with China promising to have pre-K for every 4-year-old and most 3-year-olds by 2020.”

“The National Institute for Early Education Research began collecting data on state-funded preschool programs in 2002. Fifteen years later, the institute’s State of Preschool 2017 report released this week shows that even though many elected officials claim to support early education, actual enrollment of 4-year-olds has grown only slightly since the Great Recession of 2007-2009.”

“US is falling behind other nations in providing pre-K schooling,” CNN, by April 18, 2018

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“Leading the Way,” is a series featuring the next generation of leaders in the field of early education and care.

Kretcha Roldan

Kretcha Roldan has spent her career combining social work and education.

That’s what she loved about her job as executive director of AVANCE, a nonprofit organization in Waco, Texas, that runs a two-generation education and personal development program for children and parents.

“I’m a social worker by training and by profession, but I fell in love with that concept: understanding how early education empowers parents to become children’s first teacher,” Roldan says. “It really helps the family to grow.”

Praised by former first lady Laura Bush, AVANCE serves Waco’s low-income, immigrant population.

Children and parents come to school each day. “The parents go to ESL classes or GED classes, and the children come to early childhood education classes. The parents also take parenting skills training.”

“Sometimes parents who have no means think that they cannot teach their children because they do not have the resources. When, honestly, what you need to teach a two-year-old are very basic things to have activity in their brain cells.” So the program helped parents tap their own ingenuity and creativity to use common household items to teach their children about numbers and colors.

“And both parent and child graduate. They both walk in with gowns.” (more…)

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

 

How can preschools be more accessible to immigrant children?

Four communities — Dearborn, Mich., Atlanta, Ga., King County, Wash., and Houston, Texas — have come up with good answers, according to a new Urban Institute report, “Expanding Preschool Access for Children of Immigrants.”

“Historical barriers to preschool access, including language accessibility, cultural responsiveness, and affordability, have led many immigrant families to miss out on this important experience,” a related article explains.

“But new evidence from four communities shows that policymakers and teachers remain central in expanding preschool access for children of immigrants—and they can be successful in doing so.”

The report points to common themes that emerged across the four locations, including the need to:

• address language barriers

• inform parents about their preschool options

• manage logistics such as scheduling and transportation, and

• expand access by forming partnerships with other organizations and providers such as religious organizations and health care providers

The Urban Institute article makes 10 recommendations, among them: (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

 

How can the United States do better for its toddlers?

Answers abound in a series of articles produced by the Hechinger Institute and Columbia Journalism School’s Teacher Project. A mix of these articles appear on Hechinger’s website and also on Slate’s.

“Could we improve America by treating 2-year-olds better?” the title of an article by Lillian Mongeau asks.

“Parents dread the terrible twos, but what makes the year so tough for many families isn’t just tantrums in supermarket aisles or toilet-training disasters. It’s the difficulty of finding safe, high-quality child care in a country that offers parents limited choices of questionable quality and little guidance on how to make those choices. This neglect could have far-reaching consequences—research shows that a toddler’s daily environment can have a lasting effect on her brain structure for a lifetime.” (more…)

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Screenshot: The Casey Foundation website

 

For some children, opportunity is part of life in America. But for millions of immigrant children and children of color, life in America is full of obstacles and threats.

That’s the finding of a new report — “2017 Race for Results: Building a Path to Opportunity for All Children.” Released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the report “explores the intersection of children, opportunity, race and immigration.”

The report notes that many immigrant children live in low-income and poor families whose median income “is 20 percent less than U.S.-born families.” Specifically:

• more than half of children in immigrant families are low income

• one in four children (4.5 million) are poor, and

• children of immigrants account for 30 percent of all low-income children in the United States, even though they only make up 24 percent of the country’s 74 million children

For children of color, a daunting challenge is living with dizzying layers of disadvantages in “communities where unemployment and crime are higher; schools are poorer; access to capital, fresh produce, transit and health care is more limited; exposure to environmental toxins is greater; and family supports and services are fewer.”  (more…)

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